Archive for the ‘Strategic Sourcing’ Category

How to insure the sustainability of e- RFX events for your customers.

Friday, July 13th, 2018

 

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

If you follow these simple guidelines it will also encourage senior management to consider placing more of the companies spend under the umbrella of e-procurement tools and specifically reverse auction tools.

Once you are armed with a robust detail focused supplier database and related e-procurement tools:

1. Conduct a detailed category discovery
a. Learn all there is to learn about the customers way of doing business.
b. Walk, observe and annotate all activity at distribution centers and warehouses.
c. Walk an array of stores and review all formats of the enterprise.
d. Compile a list of all corporate categories
2. Rank categories by
a. Total spend
b. Importance
c. Sourcing frequency
d. Quality objectives
e. Look for aggregation opportunities
i. Lighters, lighter fluid, flints, fire sticks.
3. Conduct supplier discovery
a. Rank suppliers
i.   Size
ii.  Experience
iii. References
iv. Environmental certifications
v.  Safety Certifications
4. With all of the above in hand; develop a three year game plan
a. Identify suppliers for each event over the three years
b. Develop savings targets by category
c. Develop a three year time line  for all categories
5. Role Play internally  the first year for a test category
a. Ask the following questions
i.   How will you award the business
ii.  Review alternate scenarios
iii. Review savings by scenario
iv. Determine which suppliers will be invited back
v. Determine what new suppliers from your database search will be invited during the next year or cycle.

I’m sure you can fill in a few more items prior to your launch, but the key is to have a plan and to write it down. Now you do.

If you’d like Safesourcing to conduct a cot neutral 2 day discovery session for your procurement team, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We  look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Cold calling is a necessary part of all businesses, not just sales.

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

I come from a history of cold calling. When my mom was in junior high (circa 1955), my grandmother started her own catering business. A hard working Hungarian immigrant, she would sit at their kitchen table every Sunday afternoon after church and call the family of every single young woman listed in the engagement announcements to ask if they had decided on a caterer. My dad is a mechanical engineer, turned salesman, who spent the bulk of his career in the tool and dye industry selling everything from diamond grinding wheels to linear ball bearings.

I guess you could say that I was born into it. Although I resisted for the first several years of my career, once I finally gave in to the sales call, I never looked back. One of my favorite parts of the sales cycle is the cold call. It’s the first introduction of the product or service that you have to offer to a person or business that may have a need for it. I see cold calls as a challenge, each one a fresh opportunity. Apparently not everyone feels the same way. Here are a few suggestions that might help your cold calls be a little less frightening and a little more fun… like mine!

  • Be Confident. Go into each call with confidence and optimism. You are a business professional providing a viable product or service to someone whose company might very well have a need for it.
  • Listen. You’re prepared. You have a good understanding of your value proposition and basic understanding of the businesses that you’re calling on. Now have a conversation, paying close attention to what’s being communicated verbally and otherwise.
  • Be Yourself. Believe it or not, discomfort is easily perceived over the phone. You do not have to be unnaturally pushy or super aggressive to make sales calls. Using your own assets and unique personality to create a genuine rapport can be much more effective.
  • Speak at a Normal Speed. Or even slightly slower than normal, and enunciate. You want to do everything you can to help your potential customers hear what you’re saying. There is nothing worse than struggling to understand someone who is speaking too quickly or mumbling.
  • Be Succinct. Get to the point quickly, keeping in mind of course that if your potential customer feels like engaging in a little small talk to feel more comfortable, you’ll be happy to oblige.
  • Know Who To Ask For. When making sales calls, do your best to understand who the decision maker is for your particular product or service. For some clients, it might be VP of Marketing, for others it could be the head of Human Resources. Learn who makes the final decision before picking up the phone, so you’re not wasting their time or your own.

Would you like to learn how SafeSourcing could help your company run more efficiently? Interested in a risk free trial? Please don’t hesitate to contact SafeSourcing. Our team is ready and available to assist you!

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

 

Freight Tendering 101

Monday, July 9th, 2018

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

This author has been in and around the freight business for years. Actually for 40 years. Just like the unrelated movie, I have seen it all. Planes, trains and automobiles (trucks really) to be sure but also ocean bound freight. The ships and planes get bigger, but at the end of the day the same issue exists. How do companies get their products to where they need to be efficiently and at a cost that is acceptable in order to satisfy customer demand?

This is not necessarily about your internal optimization models; it is more about the data that feeds your internal optimization models. That is of course if you even have one. The basis for collecting that information is not all of the math calculations and pivot tables; it really is the following types of data.

• Lane data in distance for your delivery model such as Plant to DC.
• Volume discount data from carriers
• Lane rate per mile
• Fuel Surcharge rate
• Human resources rates for loading and unloading (Lumpers in the US)
• 3PL storage rates
• Load balancing charges for LTL versus FL

There may be other data that is required for your individual model, but the above will cover most of what you need to come up with a well rounded format that freight companies can easily bid on.

Relative to who should be bidding; this authors recommendation conducting a three step process that includes a detailed RFI, followed by a detailed RFP and then ultimately the RFQ data compression piece or a reverse auction.

• RFI  – Incumbent and other participants selected from a quality sourcing  database
• RFP – Participants include a reduced number from the RFI process
• RFQ – Includes all RFP participants unless otherwise indicated by the host.

The terms and conditions of the reverse auction or RFQ can cover the balance of information needed by providers that relates to quality, certifications, payment terms, safety, insurance etc.

If you want to get control of your freight costs, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retail collective buyer organizations and consortiums are evolving in order to compete with mega retailers.

Friday, June 15th, 2018

 

These business structures have been around for a long time. Many have evolved to use cutting edge e-negotiation and eProcurement tools. Their retailer members are also benefiting from their use of these tools in order to reduce their net landed costs in many different ways

These types of organization can go by many different names such as wholesaler, collective buyer, consortium, cooperative, share groups and more. They all have one thing in common. They consolidate purchasing volumes for a wide array of groups that may have very similar business structures, but for the savvy consortium can also be wildly different.

In the retail vertical, companies may actually belong to several different buying groups because their primary group does not offer expertise in a certain area.

Consortiums are also evolving and beginning to focus mixed markets where it makes sense. In general consortiums tend to be vertically focused such as a drug industry consortium with the members generally representing the drug industry only. However some consortiums are beginning to market them selves outside of their vertical to retailers or other companies who want to take advantage of learned expertise that the consortium possesses in the categories that are common across more than their own vertical and offer increased volumes. An example might be drug stores sourcing very similar products that health care organizations like hospitals source. Although this may seem like a stretch fro most, it is now very common within retail for non vertical specific players to work together.

Today?s advanced e-negotiation or e-procurement tools make it much easier to accomplish collective buying and aggregating outside of a consortiums initial area of expertise. Large and small retailers alike now have the capability of viewing a much broader universe of suppliers and other companies while also coordinating and participating in collaborative events from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Suppliers now have an opportunity to earn business they could never compete for in the past.

Retailers should ask their collective buyers how they plan to make the use of these types of tools and what they have to offer in terms of introductions to other companies for increased volume.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

RETAILERS! Clean out those back rooms and move your overstock items using a forward auction.

Friday, May 4th, 2018

 

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Why is it that we never hear of retailers running forward auctions? There are dozens of sources waiting to buy your overstock which all retailers know will reduce shrink and improve bottom line profitability.

If you go to any internet search engine and type in the term overstock, the data returned is in the millions of pages. Many of these links are locations  for Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) companies that will gladly agree to participate in e-negotiation events in the form of a forward auction to purchase your overstock or liquidated products for resale through their on line offerings.

Online forward auctions are an ideal way to get the best price for capital equipment, materials, overstock and services you may want to sell, such as when you need to liquidate excess inventory.

There are two basic types of forward auctions. The first is a liquidation auction where sellers are reducing inventory from overstock or liquidation and buyers are seeking to obtain the lowest price for items they have an interest in for resale and other purposes. The second type is more of a marketing auction where sellers are trying to sell unique items and buyers wish to obtain unique items. This is typical of an eBay type of offering.

Much of retail shrink happens in the back room or receiving area of retail stores. It just so happens that this is also the location of much of the overstock in the retail community. Much of this product sits there month after month resulting in significant margin hits to quarterly and annual earnings and as such to a company’s stock price.

Ask your e-negotiation solution provider how they can help reduce your overstock and shrink with forward auction tools, and who they would invite as buyers. You company stakeholders will applaud your efforts.

For immediate help, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.
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What is a price or commodity index and how is it used?

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

 

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

SafeSourcing uses a number of  indices in our sourcing events every day and the same question always comes up from buyers when we do. While this is an older post from our archives I believe you will still find it useful today.

This author has heard a lot lately about prices indexes or indices. Every time we source something we are asked what index should we use. Although there are times when an index is helpful in sourcing in order to manage contracted pricing once a baseline has been determined versus the rise or fall of an index, that is not always the case for every product.

I was reading our local paper today “The Arizona Republic”. In their MARKET TIP on page 3 of the business section they had a nice synopsis of the Consumer Price Index or CPI relative to measuring inflation. It was brief and holds true in terms of how indices are used to measure the rise or drop in prices over time. In your annual contracts you may wish to review them quarterly and have escalator language that locks in price increases or decreases versus a specific index to protect you from volatile commodity markets like the oil market.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. The CPI is used as an economic indicator, a deflator of other economic series and as a means of adjusting dollar values. The CPI affects nearly all Americans because of the many ways it is used.

To learn more about how the CPI index is used please visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

If you’d like to learn more about the variety of indices and how they impact the many products that you buy for reuse as well as resale or if you are not in the business of prognostication, please contact a SafeSourcing  customer services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

How to identify good ideas – Episode I

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

Creativity is the ability to come up with novel ideas, but innovation doesn’t occur until those ideas are productive. Many businesses end up chasing ideas that never bring any productive value, because the idea was adopted for reasons that were not objectively measured and vetted. There are two primary things we should be considering when trying to determine whether an idea is good or not: Value, and Validity.

Value and validity is NOT contained within an idea just because:

  • It was given loudly
  • It was given by the highest ranking voice in the room
  • It was given from someone with many ideas
  • It was given eloquently

These are all attempts to validate an idea through personality, not value or validity. Everyone has ideas, but quantity doesn’t mean quality. How many musicians have you heard that put out a brilliant project, but followed up with something that made you question their talent altogether? The true talent lies in the ability to order, demonstrate, communicate, refine, reject, and select their ideas.

An idea has value when:

  • It solves an identified problem
  • There is a specific benefit
  • It supports a specific goal

An idea has validity when:

  • The facts behind it are true
  • There is hard evidence backing up what’s being proposed
  • There are specific numbers taken into account, calculated correctly

Adopting an idea just because it “sounds good”, “feels good” or “makes sense”, doesn’t mean it will accomplish everything it needs to in the context of the conversation being had. It can be easy to get lost in the weeds, forget what you were trying to accomplish, and adopt the idea given by the most senior representative in the room with the most passionate speech, even if solves a DIFFERENT problem than the one you met to solve in the first place.

Objectivity means you can separate yourself from the object, measure the object with other objects, view it from a perspective outside yourself. Subjectivity means you can’t see the periphery, you can only see from a perspective from within yourself, and therefore can’t bring in anything not dependent on you to measure against. Don’t get lost in complex narratives, appeals to emotion, or appeals to authority in your meetings. There are more specific methodologies available for qualifying ideas, and I’ll get into those in future posts (Six Sigma perhaps being the most well-known, but cumbersome methodology). But for now, just remember that you have the ability to step back, look at the bigger picture, and find the appropriate solution by measuring each idea’s value and validity objectively.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

 

There are 7 steps of the strategic procurement process!

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

 

Today’s post is by Ashley Riviello , Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Only being with Safe Sourcing for a few days and knowing absolutely nothing about the company prior to my hire, I have learned a great deal of information in a very short amount of time. In order to fully understand what it is we do I have been doing a little research out side of work. According to sources, no pun intended, there are 7 steps of strategic procurement process.

Step 1: Conducting an internal need of analysis

To start you need to identify exactly what the needs are of your client. You need data including but not limited to, current performance, resources used, costs and potential growth.

Step 2: Collect Information

It is extremely important for you to collect as much information as possible, so you are able to help your client as best as possible. Look for specific requirements that are needed and see exactly what their goal is and how you can help them achieve that goal.

Step 3: Collect Supplier Information

Not only do you need information from your client, you also need to get information form your suppliers. You need to select suppliers carefully. You should only pick certain suppliers that are going to benefit your clients needs. It would also be helpful to learn a little bit about their company.

Step 4: Develop a Sourcing/Outsourcing Strategy

After all, 3 steps are complete you are in need of your Request for Proposal (RFP) or a Request for Quote (RFQ) to all the selected suppliers. You will also need to get your agreement and documents finalized and sent to your suppliers. Getting your business strategy in order will keep you organized.

Step 5: Implement the Sourcing Strategy

Having an Expression of Interest (EOI), a prepared RFP or a RFQ and solicit bids from identified potential suppliers as part of the bidding process is very important at this stage. The RFP should include:

  • Detailed material
  • Product or service specifications
  • Delivery and service requirements
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Pricing structure
  • Financial terms

Step 6: Negotiate with Suppliers and Select Winning Bid

Your procurement team will then evaluate the received proposals, quotes or bids, and use the criteria and a process to shortlist the bidders to provide detailed proposals and give reports to your client. After the evaluation process is complete, your procurement team will then enter contract negotiations with the first selected bidder.

Step 7: Implement a Transition Plan

Winning suppliers should be invited to participate in implementing improvements. A communication plan is a must when developing a system for measuring and evaluating performance.

These are a few things I have learned in the few days working for this great company and I feel that if you follow these few steps you and your team can develop and implement a strategic procurement plan.

Please contact a SafeSourcing customer Services team member about our risk free trial

We look forward to your comments

 

 

 

The Pitfalls of IT contracts

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives.

IT contracts are difficult. 

Now that we have that out on the table let’s follow that up with a second statement:

IT Contracts are usually in the top 5 categories of spend of every company on the world.

When it comes to executing IT contracts the main problem boils down to having a service, software license or piece of hardware requiring a contract the details of which a legal team doesn’t always understand from a technical standpoint and which has legal elements an IT staff does not always push hard enough to improve.  Some companies have developed strong Legal IT staffs to handle this issue but most are letting the IT department review and approve contracts that meet the technical needs without attempting to improve the business or legal elements.   Today we will look at some of the elements which the legal and IT team should be working together on ensuring meet the standards needed by their company.

Technical Aspects  – Obviously the most important first step is to ensure that the service or product meets the technical requirements of the business.  This is accomplished by having a well-defined Statement of Work which clearly defines the roles of both parties and what will be delivered during the course of the contract.  For hardware and software this defines how much each party is responsible for the installation and configuration of the project and the support of the project moving forward.  This includes testing, specifications of what the solution needs to deliver, the timeline for delivery, and what is covered by warranty or maintenance and support agreement.

Legal Aspects – Once the technical requirements are met then the legal team needs ensure that all of the language surrounding the engagement and contract are also met and to the satisfaction of the company’s best interest.  One of the first sets of details must surround protection in case the relationship is not executed according to the agreed upon terms.  It is the job of the business to foster a productive and beneficial relationship with the vendors and the legal team’s responsibility to plan for the protection in case that does not occur.  Defining the governing laws and jurisdiction of a potential disagreement, precedence of documents attached to the agreement,   as well as details surrounding the termination of the agreement by either party are all things which must be examined so that the business can be protected from every angle.

Business Aspects – Several aspects affect the business portion, but most of them boil down to two areas; ownership details and pricing details.  Understanding the details of who owns the product is extremely important not only for various accounting reasons but also from a liability standpoint.  If anything happens to the product, who owns it and when will determine who takes on the cost to repair or replace that product.  Having this defined in advance will influence testing, evaluation, timelines and acceptance of the installation efforts.  Pricing is also very important and should be examined closely to ensure the company has the best terms in the way of payment schedule, rebates, discounts and other factors that will result in the best possible pricing and what has historically been ultra-high margin goods and services.

SafeSourcing routinely works with our customers’ IT departments on procurement projects to ensure many of these details are laid out and agreed upon before an award decision is even made.  For more information on how we can help your team with IT projects or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Twelve areas to consider in your spend analysis if you don’t want to lose your hard earned savings.

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

 

Todays post is a favorite from the SafeSourcing Archive

This is actually a great questions and a tough one to answer if in fact it has not been planned for during the strategy process. We all know that there are all sorts of saving figures quoted in the e-procurement industry for just about any product or service available.

Here are 12 areas of focus to consider when trying to figure out not only your ROI on these projects, but more importantly how much of the savings made their way to the bottom line and what is your leakage percentage.

1. How clean was your GL data?
2. How clean were your specifications?
3. How long did it take you to award the business?
4. How long did it take you to test samples?
5. How long did it take you to sign a contract?
6. How long did it take you to accept your first delivery?
7. Was the first invoice for the exact price you contracted for?
8. Was the shipping and handling exactly as bid?
9. Were there any SOW change requests that raised pricing?
10. What P&L period are you reporting against?
11. What was the budget for this product or service?
12. Can you trace the spend to a specific P&L line item?

It would not be too hard to add another dozen items to this list. The answer here is that proper planning helps eliminate savings leakage. Don’t plan and it will hurt or erode some or all of your potential savings.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.